California has always been trending in the world of design, but the coveted west-coast style is having a moment.
A version of this article originally appeared in OUR HOMES Summer 2018.
The interior of a California home reflects a certain reverence for the vast and diverse landscapes found within the state, which include the redwood forests, cliffs along the Pacific Ocean, countless sandy beaches, Red Rock Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert or Lake Tahoe – just to name a few. The connection to the outdoors is a central tenet in creating a space that aligns with the style of the Golden State.
With approximately 300 days of sunshine, Californians are well known for enjoying the out-of-doors and are recognized for being early adopters of sustainable initiatives and organic lifestyles. This connection to the landscape means that interior living environments often naturally extend to terraces and spaces that meld the worlds of indoor and outdoor living.
Inspired and influenced by the landscape, California style can be described as casual, relaxed and organic while also reflecting a deliberate less-is-more approach to obtain a look of curated minimalism. However, this simplistic approach is combined with the thoughtful layering of textures and a keen attention to natural and artificial lighting, which creates a warm and inviting space.
To create this look in your own home, begin with a soft, neutral backdrop in a muted palette of whites and ivories for walls and ceilings to make the space feel bright, fresh and airy. Try Benjamin Moore’s Steam (AF-15), White Down (CC-50) or Deep In Thought (AF-30). A plaster finish would be a welcome, warm element that references the Spanish influence of the Adobe architectural style.
Add in layers of natural textures such as heavy sisal and jute with softer elements such as a light cotton Turkish throw and breezy linen draperies. Natural, wire brushed and white-washed woods, worn leather, wrought iron and many handmade artisan elements such as woven baskets and imperfect pottery are also common design details.
Bohemian touches like patterned tiles and textiles such as vintage Moroccan rugs, Turkish kilims, Navajo weaving or African mud cloth can add a focal statement piece while anchoring the space with a splash of colour and another layer of visual interest.
Another common design statement is created by carefully selecting furniture that is practical in nature and beautifully simple in form. As a mecca of mid-century modern design, the influence of this movement is evident in the clean lines and modern forms that have become synonymous with Californian style (think Palm Springs, home to Modernism Week, which is devoted to celebrating and fostering an appreciation for mid-century design and architecture).
Bring the natural world indoors with lots of greenery through house plants. Try an oversize fig tree, a rubber tree, which are surprisingly easy to care for, cacti, or native botanicals to add the fresh feeling of Mother Nature in your living space. Integrating natural elements such as driftwood and other treasures found along the shore is another common way to accessorize the home.
Art that is simple in form and appropriately scaled in tones reminiscent of the sand, ocean and desert landscapes complete the look. Adorn the walls with simple line drawings, textural woven wall hangings or paintings of native plants and animals to create a design aesthetic consistent with California style.